iPhone Life magazine

How Great Is The iPhone UI? Here's What a Six Year Old Can Do With It

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I’ve been a huge fan of the iPhone user interface for a long time – and a big believer in how effective and impressive it is in providing a user experience that is so compelling that users end up getting tons more out of their device and out of the many applications for it than they do on any other mobile platform.

Recent months have hammered this point home to me more than ever – as I’ve watched my daughter get to know the iPhone, and rapidly become a very adept user of it.  At the age of 6.  In fact, she became so adept so quickly that when I upgraded to the iPhone 3GS in June, my wife took over my 3G, and my daughter (Zoe) took my original V1 iPhone, with the phone service turned off.

 Here are just a few of the things she does with it and is very comfortable doing:

  • Takes screencaps
  • Takes pictures and sends pictures via email to her parents and grandparents
  • Use a Gmail account to send and receive email from family - and manage switching to her own account when the mail app opens to her mom's
  • Browses the web, and uses Google's native app and via the browser to search for things and research things
  • Sends text messages to her cousin
  • Browses the App Store, researches apps, and presents her dad with ones that need to be acquired
  • Creates, chooses, and selects different wallpapers for the lock screen
  • Creates paintings with the amazing Brushes app, and other similar ones
  • Plays and enjoys many games - from Disney fairies to catapulting penguins and many others
  • Reads and enjoys ebooks, from classics to animated stories and new creations specially for the iPhone
  • Uses Nabbit and Shazam to identify songs on the radio
  • Moves apps around between home screens
  • Searches for things via Spotlight

Zoe rarely has many questions or needs much help in any of her iPhone activities.  Her iPhone has 5-6 screens worth of apps that she happily navigates through and gets great usage out of.

I’ve used PDAs, converged mobile devices, and smartphones for many years – but I cannot think of a single other device that could’ve offered anywhere near this level of experience to a six year old.  I’m continually amazed and pleased with how much fun Zoe gets out of the iPhone, and how effective a learning tool it is for her as well.  I really can’t imagine another mobile device that could offer so much to her.

How about all of you?  Do your kids use your iPhone?  Have their own, or an iPod Touch?  Are there other mobile devices that your kids are getting great mileage out of?



A Day in the iPhone Life of: Corvida Raven

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This is the second in what I hope will become a regular series of posts – the ‘A Day in The iPhone Life of …’ series.  I’m a complete iPhone ‘apps junkie’ – so I am always fascinated to learn about how other people use their iPhone and all its great apps - which are their favorite apps, their biggest disappointments, which apps they use every day, and all that sort of thing.  My hope is to talk to some notable iPhone users I know, or know of, on the web – people who are tech-savvy and who are iPhone power users, or iPhone devs, or just plain interesting folks who have embraced the iPhone.

I’m very happy – and very lucky – to have another great chat partner for this second in the series – Corvida Raven.  Corvida is a professional blogger, a community manager, an uber social geek, and a real fun and insightful presence on the web – and all at the tender age of 21! Here’s just some of what she’s up to on the web these days:

    * Blog Editor for Mr. Tweet, a personal Twitter recommendation tool 
    * Co-Founder of EverythingTwitter, your one stop Twitter tool shop
    * Co-Founder of The SocialGeeks Roundtable Podcast, taking social media discussions to a whole new level

You can find out more about Corvida, and how to follow her on Twitter and Friendfeed and everywhere else, at the About page at her excellent Shegeeks site, which is HERE.

Corvida is also a real iPhone power user, as you’ll clearly see in her answers below.  My questions are in bold, Corvida’s answers in plain text.  We did this interview via IM, so I’ve trimmed out some, but not all, our little asides that did not relate directly to a question.

How long have you owned an iPhone?

I purchased the 3G when it first came out last summer. Took me 5 hours to get it and get back home, but it's been a worthy investment so far.

So almost a year now?

What smartphone (or feature phone) did you use before the iPhone?

Motorola Q9c (Win Mobile 6) I still have it, but rarely use it.

Oh cool, I was a long-time Windows Mobile user / fan until iPhone came along

Same here.

How many apps did you run - roughly - on the Q?

Just Qik and a few video apps, Windows Live Search (which I loved) Skyfire too

What's the first thing you usually do with your iPhone on a typical day?

Check email.  Lately I've been playing with the new Twitterrific 2.0, but last week it was Tweetie. So email, then head over to Twitter and see what's going on.

Right, anything else? I find I do a ton of RSS catching up on the iPhone before getting up for the day - and have a feeling I saw a post of yours where you mentioned you do too ...

I use Google Reader's default web app. It's more fluid and just works. I don't read stuff offline very much so an app just isn't necessary. However, I've always been interested in Feeds, the app that is

Cool - I always say that Google Reader is still my favorite app, even though it's a web app

It's awesome. Google did a great job with a lot of their mobile products. The iPhone optimized version just feels lighter and I hate entering in my info to new apps

You're a professional blogger / community manager / influential woman in tech / a social geek and a mega Twitter expert - talk about some of the iPhone apps that help you in any or all of these areas ...

Well Apple's default apps do great, but I find all the good stuff in Cydia, which is something I check every other morning.  Twitter clients are very important too

HA - there's that question answered - you are still jailbroken

Of course! There's no other way to be :D

Which is your favorite Twitter app, tough call right?

Twitterific 2.0 and Tweetie are great paid twitter apps. It's been tough choosing a default, but I think I'll stick with Twitterific for now. Still have an eye on Tweetie though.

Wow, pretty much the same

Twitterfon is a good free app. I haven't tried it, but it looks great and I've seen a lot of good reviews about it

Tweetie has been my fave for months but Twitterrific 2.0 is superb

The threads and tap shortcuts are awesome for Twitterific 2.0

Have you tried out qtweeter on the jailbreak side of the fence?

Oh yes, that's also on my iPhone :) I play around with another one that's actually a Twitter keyboard

Oh, I envy you that one (qTweeter) - what do you think of it?

Tweeboard is the name of it. Somewhere in Cydia

It's pretty neat, but not for when I'm doing serious work.

Which, qtweeter? Howcome?

No the Tweeboard keyboard isn't productive for me. But it's fun. Qtweeter is a time saver. It does exactly what it should do

I like that it does the Facebook updates too

OK, got it. I like a few things those guys - Efiko Software - have done ...

Qtweeter is the best and I've heard good things about their iPhone ringtone maker

Yes - I like iPhoneRingToneMaker - always have - I know you can do it yourself, but I'm lazy and it's a slick app :)

Do you use Friendfeed on your iPhone?  If so, via Safari or via an app?

Occasionally I do. I use it via Safari. Do you have any app recommendations?

I like BuddyFeed quite a bit, it gets good updates, and the dev is active on Friendfeed himself

I'll put that on my list to check out too.

Cool - would like to know what you think :)

How about blogging - ever use any iPhone blogging apps to post stuff with?

I've tried the default WordPress app, but I incorporate too many things into my posts that can't be easily done from my iPhone.

If it's urgent, I'll tweet it instead.

Yeah, I've tried the WP one and iBlogger and Blogpress and use none of them often - in fact very rarely

The Tumblr iPhone app looks great though. I've seen a few demos of it and it made me want to start a tumblelog.

I think that's more suited for the iPhone.

Ha - I think so too - bought it, started one, rarely update it - but that's my bad, nothing wrong with the app / service

I don't know if you coined the phrase, but you're the first person I saw use it, when I first discovered your Shegeeks site - so what is your all-time favorite 'awesomesauce' iPhone app?

I did coin it, but I'm sure other great minds may have said it before I came around. Awesomesauce app? Do I have to pick just one?

Nah - how about Top 3?

My there's so many to choose! I love a lot of them. Top 3: Brightkite, Winterboard, & either Tap Tap Revenge 2 or PixelPipe.

But I love Flickit, Qik, MixTube, and Imeem's new app may become a big favorite soon also.

Good ones - boy I miss themes now that I'm running stock - and SB Settings I miss sooooo much - FlickIt is superb

Are you tempted to try 3.0, or too much of a pain with jailbreak etc?

Too much of a pain. I want the whole package!

What's the worst iPhone app you ever downloaded (free or paid)?  And why?

Wow, I really don't know. It would probably have to be the Crash Bandicoot racing app

Why?

I've regretted purchasing that app from day 1. I've never really played it either. The touch controls are too sensitive. I purchased it at the wrong time. I was still new to the iPhone so it just felt weird still. It made it difficult to play the game though and I haven't really went back to it since.

Gotcha - makes sense

Have you bought or DLed for free any real 'novelty' type apps, or even crap apps?

What do you mean by novelty?

Well, I think I've drawn my own little - not very straight line - between outright crap (like farts, burps, other rude sounds) and things like iNap@Work, which seem fun and more like 'novelty' apps to me

But obviously one person's crap app is another person's novelty app and so on

Oh ok, well one might consider this crap but I think it's funny and that would be Shotgun (the free version)

No novelty apps yet

Right - that's the type I was thinking of though :)

Any favorite iPhone sites?

Hmms, TUAW, Apple iPhone School, and the iPhone blog

Yeah - Apple iPhone School are excellent for jailbreak apps info

Are you planning to grab the new model if there is one this summer?

Hell yeah! :D

I hope there is a new model, but the iPhone will have some tough competition this summer and I'm not cutting it any slack.

Like The Pre perhaps?

The Pre, Nokia's N97, another Android Handset.

Will you be giving any of those a look as well?

If I can get my hands on them I sure will. The Palm and N97 for sure. I had the pleasure of seeing the N97 at SxSW. I think it might end up being a huge debate between UI's and Apps for me.

Best interface and app store wins and the biggest app store doesn't necessarily make it a winner.

Good stuff. The Pre does look exciting, ideas and UI wise - to me ...

I'm a very visual person.

So that's a major dealbreak for me.

I think UI counts for a ton for me in all of this too

The iPhone upped the ante with that one.

What do you most want to see changed / added in a new model and / or the new OS version?

A better camera and MMS first and foremost. Bluetooth (I swap pictures and songs via bluetooth all the time.) If not for the music at least for the images.

Better memory performance and background processing

Those are my top 5

I like those - I think video is very near top of my charts

Oh yes, do add that to my list too - and I'd love to see theme integration! Let me customize the crap out of the homescreen please.

Themes - jeez, yes - I cannot see how we can have an app that looks at and kills sytem and app processes, but we can't have one that changes the icons :)

It's torture - Cruel and unusual punishment.

Cool. You're a Qik user you said right?

Qik yes

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I’d like to say a huge Thank You to Corvida for taking time to do this with me this week.  She actually took a lot of time, and was a lot of fun to talk to.  I enjoy her writing a whole lot, so it was great to get her thoughts on the iPhone and especially on iPhone apps.  If you haven’t already done so, you should really give Corvida’s stuff a look at: Shegeeks.net.



A Day in The iPhone Life of - Patrick Scoble

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This is the first in what I hope will become a regular series of posts – the ‘A Day in The iPhone Life of …’ series.  I’m a complete iPhone ‘apps junkie’ – so I am always fascinated to learn about how other people use their iPhone and all its great apps - which are their favorite apps, their biggest disappointments, which apps they use every day, and all that sort of thing.  My hope is to talk to some notable iPhone users I know, or know of, on the web – people who are tech-savvy and who are iPhone power users, or iPhone devs, or just plain interesting folks who have embraced the iPhone.

I am delighted to say that for this first post in the series, Patrick Scoble has very kindly agreed to be my partner in chat.  Patrick is the eldest son of Robert Scoble, probably the world’s best known tech blogger.  Both of them are iPhone users, but Patrick is the real iPhone expert, as you’ll soon see below.  My questions are in bold, Patrick’s answers in plain text.  We did this interview via IM, so I’ve trimmed out most, but not quite all our little asides that did not relate directly to a question.

 

Ok, I get the impression you are the resident iPhone expert in the Scoble family - is that roughly correct?

Yeah, I like to think it is. I pay attention to all the rumors and other things revolving around the iPhone. My dad usually does not.

Which iPhone do you own,  a 3G?  And how long have you had one (I believe since Day 1 of first gen launch)?

We were first in line at the Palo Alto Apple store for the original launch, we were also 3rd in line at the San Francisco Apple store for the 3G this last summer. We might be back for this year’s launch too. I currently have a white iPhone 3G.

What smartphone (or dumb phone) did you use before the iPhone?

Actually the iPhone was my first real phone that I really used everyday. This was because it really is a phone that is just everything you need in one product. I was able to replace my phone and iPod with one device which was part of my reasoning behind going with the iPhone in the first place. I couldn't tell you what phone I used since I don't remember, but I can say I didn't use it all that much.

What's the first thing you usually do with the iPhone on a typical day?

The first thing? Well on usual days I might listen to music on my way to school or before class starts.

Via the iPod app or a 3rd party app?

Usually from the iPod app, although I've been known to use the Pandora app from time to time.

Cool - and do you use any iPhone apps to help with school work?

Well apps that are useful for school work are the basic calculator app, Wikipanion for research, and translator apps (such as "Free Translator" although there are others) can also help a bit in language classes. Although, I have to say I don't personally use my iPhone to help me with my school work as much as I could.

Favorite (3rd party) iPhone app of all-time?  Most used?  (if they're not the same)  

Well, lets see here. It really is hard to say what is my personal favorite app as there are a lot of really great ones. Some ones that pop out are Vlingo, Tweetie, Facebook, and MySpace all are pretty well designed apps and ones that I use often. I'm not sure I really could pick out a specific app though, as all these apps really have become almost essential to how I use my iPhone.

Good answer - and great lead-in for next question.  Name 3 apps (or more if you like) that you use just about every day

Oh, and just btw, I'm a big Tweetie fan as well - and I'm liking the new Mac version of it a lot too

Yeah I've heard of the desktop client I have yet to try it though. I'll make sure and check it out now.

Well no matter what comes out app-wise the iPod will always be my top most used app. Music has always been very important to me and I use that app everyday. Another set of apps that are important would probably be MySpace and Facebook (about equally) to get on my social networks, these have quickly became great ways to communicate with your friends and on a device like an iPhone that is especially important. The other app I use everyday is the browser, Safari, to get on the web and check out the different forums I take part in. Those couple apps are probably the ones I really use everyday and are especially important but there are a ton of other apps I use very frequently such as the phone (of course!), sms, and calendar apps.

Makes sense.  How about a worst app you've ever downloaded?  (free or paid)

Hmm that's another tough one just because, and I hate to say it, there are just so many apps that are just really not all that great. I've deleted most of the really poor ones and don't really remember them. I will say I was personally disgusted when that iFart app was at the #1 spot on the chart (I never downloaded it). It's sad to think that something like the App Store which can bring some really useful apps to the iPhone, can also bring things like that but, whatever, to each their own. The only app I have that I have regretted buying is the Star Wars game when it was first released I bought it for $10 only to find it wasn't that fun of a game and one with absolutely no replay value.

Yeah - what is popular in the App Store can be a little scary sometimes

Do you tend to run your phone stock or jailbroken?

I usually use it stock. I have jail broken my iPhones twice. Once, when I first bought the iPhone to check it out. At the time the developer ecosystem wasn't quite there yet and I restored it very fast. However, a couple months ago I jailbroke my 3G and found there to actually be some fairly useful things on there. However, I still only lasted about a week and a half before restoring. It just didn't add enough to the iPhone to justify it. I will say some of the themes I had were cool and using a tool like OpenSSH and creating your own theme and messing around with internal files on the iPhone was quite fun.

Do you keep your dad up to date on all the latest / greatest apps?  Does he like a lot of the ones you recommend? Or has he ever recommended any real gems to you?

I'll recommend apps to him when I find something that is genuinely useful. However, we have two very different uses for our iPhones so not all apps I like will be a good match for him. He also recommends apps to me when he finds really good ones. He actually got me on Tweetie the first time a few months ago. I'm also now using the desktop client on my Mac per your recommendation and I'm enjoying it so far.

Oh, glad to hear it ref the desktop app. 

Have you tried any of the 3.0 betas yet?

No I haven't. I'm not a developer so I feel that it isn't my responsibility to try it. I also don't feel like going through the trouble of pirating firmware that isn't complete yet. I am looking forward to getting my hands on it this summer though, and I'm also watching it's progress. It should be a good update.

What do you most want to see changed / added in a new model and / or the new OS version?

Well as far as hardware I think a scratch-resistant matte plastic backing might be nice, as well as a new camera with a better sensor and auto focus. Software wise they seem to be going down the right road with 3.0. I'd like so see a little more customization possible (backgrounds, icons, etc) I think that might be a neat feature, it definitely isn't a necessity though. Other than that I think I'll wait and see how things go with the new firmware and SDK before I say I want anything else.

Amen on the customization front!  My biggest wish list item - which is not in the 3.0 betas yet - is some ability to arrange and manage apps / home screens in a much more clever way

Yeah customization would be nice.

Any favorite iPhone related sites / forums? 

Well my favorite Mac related forum and website is Macrumors. Their Apple coverage is top notch and they have a very inviting and informational forum there. I've been visiting that site for several years now and always enjoy it. The only other site I can think of off the top of my head was one site that I also found useful when I was hacking my iPhone was hackthatphone.com. That site was a great help when jailbreaking and customizing my phone. For anyone looking to hack their phone or iPod I would send them there.

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I’d like to say thanks to Robert Scoble, for helping me arrange this interview with Patrick.  He really does pick up his cellphone, even on a weekend, and is happy to talk to random folks like me who know him via Twitter and Friendfeed and everywhere else he shares his thoughts these days.  And a huge thanks to Patrick – for immediately agreeing to do this with me, for being big fun to talk to on these subjects, and for providing such great answers. I hope we might even do this again sometime with Patrick – maybe once Apple reveals its new model plans this summer. 

Oh, and that is Patrick pictured at the top of this post, with his younger brother, Milan.

Thanks again Patrick …



Hola, iPhone Lifers

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Hola and Hello iPhone Lifers!  I'm another new iPhone blogger here, and as you may have guessed, this is just my 'Hi There, I'm new here' post.

I've been a contributing writer for the printed iPhone Life magazine since its debut issue and I'm really looking forward to being an online contributor here as well.  I also run my own iPhone dedicated site, called Just Another iPhone Blog – so though I’m new here, I’m a veteran iPhone app fiend and blogger. :)

Some of the subjects I hope to write about here include: iPhone apps, the App Store, and some of the ways I'd like to see Apple improve things for those of us who are 'app junkies'.

Oh, and since apps and the power of the iPhone OS as a mobile platform, are what most interest me, I also want to talk to lots of interesting people about what apps they use and how they use their iPhone.  In fact, my next post here will be the first in a series called 'A Day In The iPhone Life of ...' - and will feature interviews with some interesting iPhone users.

Hope you'll tune in, or turn up, for that too ...



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